GREENCLIFF AND BIDEFORD BLACK.

A trip out to Abbotsham to visit Greencliff and restock up on some Bideford Black pigment. What a marvellous day it turned out to be as the weather was forecast to be rather grey. It was an easy walk down to the Lime Kiln and then down onto the pebbly beach. There were a few picnicking couples enjoying the solitude and breath taking views along the North Devon Coast. I found the black seam and removed some of the dark claylike material, someone had been there before and left a hole in the cliff, this I made good with some rocks and clay to prevent any more erosion or collapse. After washing my hands I walked up and down the beach sketching and taking some pictures for further paintings, I then sat and admired the view in the Spring sunshine!

In search of the elusive Bideford Black Pigment otherwise known as Biddiblack.  Running alongside seams of anthracite across North Devon is a black clay-like material that was mined for 200 years in Bideford for its uses as a strong black pigment. The unique ‘Mineral Black’, or ‘Biddiblack’ as it was known, was commercially produced for applications in the boat building industry, for colouring rubber products, for camouflage on tanks in WWII and was even bought by Max Factor for the production of mascara. The mines were closed in 1968 when the production of cheaper oil-based blacks and the depletion of the seam made the operation financially unviable, but many locals still remember the ‘Paint Mines’ and have tales to tell of using the paint or going into the now defunct mine shafts.  Today it’s revered by artists who love it’s inky black non reflective properties.  It first has to be dried, ground and then mixed with a medium such as PVA or Gum Arabic.  Looking forward to making my own now and seeing what images I can produce.  

Most of the information above was from a very informative website called The story of Bideford Black.  

http://bidefordblack.blogspot.com/p/history.html

Below is the view looking back towards Abbotsham Cliffs and Westward Ho. In the far distance you can just make out Saunton Sands Hotel on the horizon.

If you’re not local then leg it!

I was quite taken by this surf sticker infested sign in a lay-by overlooking Saunton Sands Beach. I’ve decided to paint this sign as a challenge and nod to all the people who have had a hand in it’s creation. From these lay-bys you get a magnificent view out over Saunton Sands, the Burrows and all the way to Westward Ho and beyond. I’ve entitled this composition ‘If you’re not local then leg it!‘ In days gone by surfers used to stake claims on local breaks with words such as ‘locals only’ etc. Acrylic on gesso panel 760 x 600mm.

Westward Ho!

Spent a rather enjoyable walk along the beach at Westward Ho in North Devon and met up with some old friends and caught up on old times. Similar to many years ago when I painted the watercolour below of the same friends when we had our children with us!

The Haunted House.

IMG_0105 (2)Last Bideford Black painting for a while.  This is of the famous Seafield House at Westward Ho in North Devon.  Always love looking at this building with its decay and mystery.  Recently a local businessman has purchased this so it will be interesting to see what happens.  http://www.westwardhohistory.co.uk/seafield-house/  If you are interested here is a video tour of the inside of this building  https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/break-haunted-seafield-house-westward-331933

Westward Ho!

A quick pastel sketch from a photograph of Westward Ho from a magnificent picture off Facebook.  One thing about the North Devon Beaches is that you get magnificent reflections in the wet sand.  They’re full of wonderfully subtle colours and shapes an artists dream. (Pastel 470mm x 300mm). Al

ps Original photograph by Rob Elson.